The Yiddish
Philharmonic Chorus
The Yiddish Philharmonic

Keeping Yiddish choral music alive!

Yiddish Philharmonic Chorus Milestones

The Freiheit Gezang Farein, 1923

1923 - The Freiheit Gezang Farein (FGF) is founded by conductor/composer Lazar Weiner on New York’s Lower East Side.
1924 - February 23, Carnegie Hall, New York: FGF gives its first concert, including a song that became a staple of its repertoire for some 20 years, “Di Internatsionale.”
1925 - The Jewish Workers Music Alliance (Der yidish-muzikalisher arbeter-farband) is founded as funding organization for many Yiddish choruses. During its 60-year existence, the Alliance publishes 7-8 collections of Yiddish choral works and solo works (first under the title “Mit gezang tsum kamf”, then “Gezang un kamf”), edited by FGF conductors Jacob Schaefer and Max Helfman.
1926 - February 20, Mecca Temple, New York: The FGF, conducted by Weiner, debuts Jacob Schaefer’s oratorio Tsvey Brider, – the first Yiddish chorus concert with an orchestra.
1926-36 - Jacob Schaefer conducts the FGF, at times a 300-singer chorus.
1920s - Choruses of the International Workers Order / IWO (“ordn-khorn”) spring up all over the city (Washington Heights, Brighton, Brownsville, Coney Island, Kings Highway, Jamaica, two in the Bronx, the “Downtown” and the “Yugnt” branch), the tri-state area (Newark, Passaic, Paterson, Farmer’s Chorus and Connecticut) and the country (Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Bay Area, Los Angeles, Petaluma). There were 30 in all, nationwide.
1932 - “Mit gezang tsum kamf - Songs for Voice and Piano” published by the International Workers Order, compiled and arranged by Jacob Schaefer.
1934 - “Gezang un kamf”, the 2nd in the series, now with a new name, and now published by Der yidisher muzikalisher arbeter-farband / IMAF (106 E 14 St, NYC), complied and edited by Jacob Schaefer.
1935-40 - “Gezang un kamf”, issues 3 through 8, are published, one each year, edited by Schaefer through 1936, Helfman from 1938-1940, and a combination of the two for the issue that was published in 1937.
1936 - Schaefer passes away suddenly at age forty-eight.
1936-48 - Max Helfman conducts the FGF.
1937 - The Jewish Workers Music Alliance changes its name to the Jewish Music Alliance (Der yidisher muzik-farband).
1938 - Freiheit newspaper editor Moyshe Olgin passes away. A force in the creation and continuation of the FGF, Olgin is memorialized by the song “Mir zogn tsu” (words: Yuri Suhl; music: Max Helfman), which becomes a staple of the FGF’s repertoire.
1948 - The FGF changes its name to the Jewish People’s Philharmonic Chorus (JPPC).
1948 - June 13, Carnegie Hall, New York: The JPPC performs Max Helfman’s final concert as its conductor in June at Carnegie Hall, including the premiere of Helfman’s “Di Naye Hagode”, a haunting setting of Itsik Fefer’s epic poem, “Di shotns fun varshever geto” (Shadows of the Warsaw Ghetto).
1948-52 - Dr. Leon Kopf, a German refugee, conducts the JPPC and creates the Chorus’s earliest recording.
1952-60 - Eugene (Yehuda) Malek conducts the JPPC.
1953 - The first annual concert of the Jewish Cultural Clubs and Societies features the sister chorus of the JPPC, the Jewish People’s Chorus of New York (JPCNY) conducted by Maurice Rauch, performing the first of many dramatic chorales written by Itche Goldberg in collaboration with Rauch as composer.

The Jewish People's Philharmonic Chorus (JPPC), 1964

1958/59 - The JPCNY makes two recordings: A Goldfaden Collection, and the folk-operetta adapted from Sholom Aleichem stories, Sholem Aleichem Dir, Amerike! (libretto: Martin Birnbaum, music: Maurice Rauch).
1960-71 - The JPCNY merges into the JPPC and Maurice Rauch becomes conductor of the combined group. With Rauch, the JPPC records Schaefer’s Tsvey Brider (1967), the last recording of the Chorus, until 2006.
1971-72 - Oscar Julius conducts the JPPC.
1972-78 - Maurice Rauch returns to conduct the JPPC.
1978-80 - Franco Rossi conducts the JPPC.
1980 - Rauch conducts one concert for the JPPC.
1980-84 - Madeline Simon is the JPPC’s first female conductor.
1984-95 - Peter Schlosser conducts the JPPC.
1985 - The Jewish Music Alliance merges into the Zhitlowsky Foundation.
1995- - Binyumen Schaechter conducts the JPPC.
1998 - JPPC begins year-round Outreach Concerts throughout NYC tri-state area, from Town Hall to the Museum of Jewish Heritage. The JPPC becomes arguably the first Yiddish chorus ever to sing a cappella and selectively mixed (not in vocal sections).
2000, 2001, 2003 - The JPPC performs at the annual North American Jewish Choral Festival at the Nevele Hotel, Ellenville, NY.
2000 - The JPPC is the only Yiddish chorus ever to perform at World Trade Center Plaza, New York.
2001 - The JPPC sings for a Chanuka Memorial Ceremony at Ground Zero, site of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks.
2002, 2005, 2006 - The JPPC is the only Jewish chorus ever to perform at the New York International Choral Festival at Alice Tully Hall (Lincoln Center).
2003 - The Jewish People’s Philharmonic Chorus celebrates 80 years of preserving, creating, and sharing Yiddish song, becoming the world’s longest continually operating Jewish chorus.
2005 - The JPPC is the only Yiddish chorus ever to perform at Shea Stadium for the NY Mets’ Jewish Heritage Day. They sang our national anthem and Mark Zuckerman’s Yiddish choral arrangement “Amerike di prekhtike” (America the Beautiful).
2006 - The JPPC releases a CD, Zingt! A Celebration of Yiddish Choral Music – its first recording in 39 years.
2007 - The JPPC records its first live-in-concert DVD, which was then released in 2009.
2007 - The JPPC is filmed and recorded for the 2009 feature film Tickling Leo.
2007, 2010, 2011, 2013-19 - The JPPC is a featured chorus at the annual North American Jewish Choral Festival, first in Kerhonkson, NY, then in Stamford, CT.
2008 - The JPPC is the only Yiddish chorus ever to perform at West Point Military Academy (NY).
2008 - The JPPC performs its annual gala spring concert for the first time at Symphony Space.
2010 - The JPPC performs in Riverside Church as the only Jewish chorus in the 5th New York International Choral Festival.
2011 - The JPPC becomes the first Yiddish chorus ever to perform standing entirely mixed.
2013 - The JPPC performs at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (NY), the 4th largest church in the world, commemorating 70 years since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
2014 - The JPPC posts its first videos on YouTube.
2016 - The JPPC performs its annual gala spring concert for the first time at Merkin Concert Hall.
2021 - The JPPC changes its name to The Yiddish Philharmonic Chorus.